Becoming looked after or being in care means that Rhondda Cynon Taf is responsible for deciding who looks after you and where you live. If you are looked after, you will have a social worker and may live away from home.
There are lots of different reasons why you might become looked after. It might be because living with your own family just wasn't working or because people are worried about your safety. Some children become looked after when they are babies, some are teenagers and others only come into care for a short time then go back home to live with their parents.
How Did I become looked after?
It can be quite complicated but usually there are 2 ways children become looked after by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
- Through a Care Order made by a family court
- Being Accommodated with parents agreement
What is a Care Order?
A Care Order means legally Rhondda Cynon Taf share parental responsibility with your parents to keep you safe. During the court process, you will have a Children's Guardian (a CAFCASS Officer) to make sure you have your say. This person represents you, not your parents or Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
You will have a social worker and they will consult with you and your family about where you will live, go to school and how to help you to keep in touch with the people that are important to you. (if it is appropriate to do so). You should always be included in these decisions about your life. If you feel you are not being listened to you can speak to an adult you trust, your social worker, your IRO or an advocate. If you still don't think that you are being listened to, you can contact the complaints department on 0800 5877324.
What does ‘Accommodated’ mean?
Being ‘Accommodated’ is another way that children and young people become looked after. This is where Rhondda Cynon Taf and your parents have agreed that is in your best interest to be looked after whilst you and they plan for your future. Similar to the Care Order, you could still be placed in a foster placement or residential home.
If you want to know more about where you live while you are looked after, visit the ‘Where I Live’ section of this website.
What’s the difference between being on a Care Order and being Accommodated?
When you are accommodated, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council does not have parental responsibility for you. Your social worker has to get your parents consent on lots of things and your parents are still able to make decisions about you and your life.
If you are unsure about whether you are on a Care Order or accommodated then you should ask your foster carer or social worker.
What is a care & SUPPORT plan?
Every looked after child or young person will have a Care and Support Plan. It is a document that your social worker will complete and update with you and your family letting people know what is best for you so that they can put things in place to help you. It includes information about your placement, health, education, contact and future plans. Your Care and Support Plan will be talked about in your review meetings to make sure it is still meeting your needs. You can have a copy of your Care and Support Plan if you want it, and this might help you understand what is going on.
How often should i be visited?
If you are in foster care or a residential home your social worker should visit you within the first week of you moving in, and then at least once every 6 weeks for the first year at least. If your Care and Support Plan says that you should remain in the same placement until your 18th birthday then your social worker should visit you at least once every 3 months after the first year.
There are times when RCT Social Services, you and your family might have agreed for you to be placed with a family member or family friend. These arrangements are called a Kindship Placement, and if this is the case the social worker might visit weekly for the first month at least, and then should be visited at least 6 weekly whilst you are still looked after. If your Care and Support Plan says that you should remain in the same placement until your 18th birthday then your social worker should visit you at least once every 3 months after the first year.
What is life story work?
Life Story Work (or Life Journey Work) can help children and young people looked after away from home make sense of their past and present. Life Story Work could be in the form of a book, scrapbook, photo album, CD or conversations with people who know you.